How To Over-Come Discouragement

Quote of the Week

“Identify your problems, but give your power and energy to solutions.”

— Anthony Robbins

How To Over-Come Discouragement

by Philip Humbert

Recently, I’ve received a number of emails asking how to motivate ourselves and push forward when we are discouraged. Sometimes the writer describes it as depression, other times they use words like frustration, or feeling “stuck” and they want to know how to turn things around. That’s a great question!

We all feel discouraged or frustrated or “stuck” at some point in our lives. Whether it’s being at our “wits end” with our kids or scared that a business venture won’t work out, or confused by our own behavior around something we very much want but seem unable to achieve, we all have these feelings!

Unfortunately, one of the first things I notice is that many of the writers are asking terrible questions! They ask me “why am I so stuck?” or, “Why does this always happen to me?” Notice the assumptions they make about being “so” stuck and that this sense of discouragement or frustration “always” happens. With questions like that, no wonder they stay stuck!

A much better question is, “How do highly successful people handle these normal experiences and get back on track?”

Here are a few of my observations about how successful people handle the roadblocks and frustrations of life.

  1. First, they acknowledge that what they are doing isn’t working, and they stop to catch their breath. They do NOT beat their head against a wall! Take a break! Get some objectivity and relax for a moment. If you’re discouraged, frustrated, depressed or stuck, be honest enough to say, “this isn’t working” and give yourself a rest.
  2. Second, they get curious. They want to understand exactly what’s happening. There is a difference between being discouraged, which has to do with fatigue (it may be time for a vacation), verses depression, which is an illness (it may be time to see a doctor). Frustration, on the other hand, is the firm belief that my goal is entirely possible, it’s just not happening yet!
  3. They double-check their values and highest aspirations. Often we are frustrated because our goal is not consistent with our values. Sometimes we sabotage or procrastinate because deep inside we don’t truly want the thing we say we want. Human beings can achieve amazing results when they are totally committed. Unfortunately, we are also capable of fooling ourselves about this.
  4. They ask great questions. They ask, “What worked for me in the past?” or “How have other people solved this problem?” They consult with experts, read books, search the Internet, and find answers that can help them move forward. If nothing else, they ask, “What crazy, off-the-wall thing could I try just for fun?”
  5. They take DIFFERENT action. After checking their values, perhaps taking a short rest, and asking great questions, successful people do something different than what they were doing. They try another way. They hire an assistant or a consultant. They develop a new strategy or change their approach.

I’ve come to believe that discouragement, a sense of failure, and especially frustration are actually very useful “early warning signs.” They are the brain’s way of telling us our objective is reachable, but that we are going about it the wrong way. These normal experiences tell us to step back, get perspective, take a deep breath, and think clearly! Strategize. Get creative. Ask better questions.

And most important, clarify your values and be certain they support you in achieving your goal. I think ambivalence is perhaps the greatest source of discouragement. We want more money, but don’t want to be away from home. We want to lose weight, but enjoy eating too much. Get clear!

When our values align with our goals, and we ask the right questions, anything is possible! Use discouragement to your advantage! It’s your brain telling you to pause, develop a better strategy, and work smarter rather than harder.

Copyright(c) 2007, all rights reserved. Written by Dr. Philip E. Humbert – Author, Speaker & Success Strategist. Visit his website for over 300 articles, tips and ideas like this one, and be sure to subscribe to his weekly newsletter! Visit him at

Coaching Call to Action

Have you noticed that when you frame a question from the standpoint of what’s not right, it’s hard to find solutions? This week when you are feeling stuck or discouraged, ask better questions that focus on the positive and what you want. See what new ideas and energy occur for you.

Community Involvement
Warm Welcome to Boston Women In Finance Program Attendees for Empowering Yourself

A warm welcome to our new Coaching Tip of the Week subscribers who I met Wednesday night at Boston Women in Finance during my program “Empowering Yourself”. I enjoyed sharing my tools for gaining control of your life and learning from you. Thank you for attending and participating fully.

Ideas and Information

When you are making out your Christmas card list this year, please include the following:

A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001